Colorado Ski Resort News: 2018 Winter Olympics, Mountain Coasters, And More

Steamboat Springs (Photo: Larry Pierce)

Ambassadors from the Colorado Ski Country marketing association visited Dallas this past week, bringing news of the 24 ski resorts in their consortium, which includes famed resorts such as Telluride, Crested Butte, Steamboat, Purgatory, and Aspen SnowMass. Believe it or not, ski patrollers have already hit the slopes in some areas, sampling the first snow of the season. Colorado Ski Country reps are touring major cities to spread the word of Olympic qualifying events, expansions in their member resorts, and thrilling new attractions.

Read on for a roundup of news of activities and improvements to look forward to this year. And, among the resorts affiliated with Colorado Ski Country are ten properties the association points out as hidden gems: smaller, under-the-radar venues that offer less expensive pricing and draw fewer crowds than mega-resorts. Those looking for a down-to-earth, approachable vacation home areas might want to make a special point to check these out. We include the list. Here’s the link.

Olympics-Related Activities

The big event which will impact the industry this season: The XXIII Winter Olympics hosted in PyeongChang County, South Korea. The games, which will be held Feb. 9 to the 28, will undoubtedly inspire a bump in worldwide ski resort traffic and be the focus of Olympic-themed events, parties, and clinics. Colorado will host two Olympic qualifying events — the US Grand Prix at Copper Mountain Dec. 6 to 10 and at Aspen Snowmass Jan. 10 to 14. Ski areas across the state will feature Olympic-themed events for the public such as races, Olympiads, sendoffs for athletes competing in the games, and lessons or clinics led by former Olympians.

 

Outlaw Mountain Coaster. Photo courtesy of Steamboat Resort.

Mountain Coasters: Four Colorado ski resorts will open year-round mountain coasters — gravity-driven roller coasters elevated four to 40 feet off the ground offering exciting thrills with dips, waves, and 360 loops. At Snowmass, the Breathtaker alpine coaster — opening in December 2017 — will drop guests more than 400 vertical feet on a mile of turning track. At Copper Mountain, the Rocky Mountain Coaster will have a vertical drop of 430 feet on an average grade of 10.9 percent. Purgatory Resort’s coaster — 4,000 feet long with a total descent of 300 feet — will be the steepest mountain coaster in North America. The Outlaw Mountain Coaster, which just opened at Steamboat in September, has a track descending more than 400 vertical feet with a rise of 40 feet above ground. Its length of 6,280 feet sets a record as the longest mountain coaster in North America.

Other Expansions And Improvements

  • The Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort in Dillon, Colorado, has experienced a major terrain expansion: 468 new skiable acres. With a top elevation of 13,050 feet, it has the highest ski slopes in the United States, and hence offers one of the longest seasons.
  • The Loveland Ski Area has expanded its snowcat skiing operation and will be celebrating its 80th year of operations this year with special New Years Eve parties and fireworks. Loveland has a top elevation of 13,010, ranked second behind Arapahoe Basin in tallest elevation. The two venues have a friendly rivalry every year as to who will first open the season.
  • Purgatory Resort has opened new expert and intermediate trails and improved their glade skiing acreage.
  • Steamboat’s gondola has undergone a major renovation.
  • Aspen Snowmass will open a 99-room ski in/ski out Limelight Hotel in 2018, complete with a fitness center, climbing wall, and an outdoor heated pool and hot tub.
  • The Copper Mountain resort is unveiling $20 million dollars in improvements this year. They are replacing the Kokomo lift with a detachable quad chairlift and opening two new restaurants in the base area: Toast & Co. (a relaxed breakfast-dinner venue), and Ten Mile Tavern (a craft beer taproom and restaurant featuring rustic modern interior décor, an indoor/outdoor fireplace, and an elevated patio). The resort also has a new lodge at the top of the Kokomo Express Lift with seating and casual dining that offers sweeping panoramas of Copper Mountain and Tenmile Range.
  • Wolf Creek Ski Area’s is introducing a new conveyor Lynx Lift to ease access to existing lifts and terrain.
  • Eldora Mountain Resort is debuting a six-person detachable lift.
  • Cooper has a new mountaintop yurt, where they’ll be serving food and drinks.

The Gems: Those resorts named as hidden treasures which offer more down-to-earth skiing and snowboarding experiences? Arapahoe Basin, Cooper, Echo Mountain, Eldora, Granby Ranch, Hesperus, Loveland, Monarch Mountain, Powderhorn, and Sunlight. You can find out more about these and the other resorts affiliated with Colorado Ski Country on the association’s website.